Arthritis is an insidious disease, eating its way into the joints of nearly 70 million Americans, or nearly one out of every three U.S. adults. It is considered one of our most prevalent chronic health problems, costing the economy more than $124 billion in healthcare and lost wages each year.1 One of the more unnerving aspects of this disease is the fact its prevalence has nearly doubled in the past two decades,2 adding 23 million more to its “hit list” in the past seven years alone.
Emotions, of themselves, are not a problem. Everyone experiences a range of emotional feeling throughout their lives: Sadness, anger, joy, worry and so forth. They are a natural part of our embodied experience and a normal response to our environment. They are neither positive nor negative. They only become problematic when they are notably intense and excessive and, especially, when prolonged over a long period of time, without expression or acknowledgment. Everyone feels anger at times, but it is normally a strong, but short-lived, response to a direct and immediate stimulus.
In a village in feudal Japan, a man falls from a rooftop, and the force of the landing causes him to stop breathing. A crowd gathers; they know the man is in trouble, but they are unsure what to do. Suddenly, a little old man pushes through the crowd, grabs the victim, gives a loud shout (kiai), and strikes him. The victim is instantly revived. Although the old man practices medicine, he is not a doctor. In fact, he is a person that few Westerners would expect to heal someone: a martial artist.
When you think about protection, what do you think? Car insurance, health insurance, home insurance? Being physically strong and well-trained? Regular check-ups, vitamins, herbal preparations?
I am lying face down on a massage table. My ears are tightly covered, so that I’m deep inside a loud silence of rushing blood and muffled room tones. Explosions of pressure twang against the back of my skull and reverberate through my brain and being, over and over. I feel at first shaken apart, and then, oddly enough, powerfully relaxed — safe.